The Stone Soup Institute is an international school offering courses of study which integrate traditional and contemporary practices and knowledge in the Agrarian Arts & Sciences, Crafts and Fine Arts.

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Building a Logging Sled/Scoot

 One of the first projects that the students have completed is a logging scoot. This is being used to drag wood out of the woodlot. It is then put into a jig( see below) to buck up with a chainsaw to a size that can fit into the wood stove and the Finnish fireplace. LogSled_IMG_1824-loaded Sled (maybe 1:3 corD) The logging scoot is seen above, with a load of hardwood. To build the logging sled, first the runners where cut from spruce.
LogSled-RunnersIMG_1724 Hardware was taken off an old logging sled and then bolted onto the new logging sled. Because we had the wrong size drill bit, we heated up the steel shaft and pressed on the bunk, which is the crossbar of the scoot.

 LogSled_detail_postIMG_1726 LogSled_smokeIMG_1735
The shoes where made of oak and were nailed into predrilled holes. These holes were filled with plugs, so there the bottom of the shoe is smooth and without any drill holes.
LogSled_drillingIMG_1729 LoGSled_shaving pegsIMG_1778
Posts were made from wood to fit into brackets. These hold the wood on the sled when the sled is in motion.
  LogSledIMG_1783 LogSledIMG_1785
At this point the sled is finished. We used it for a few days. The group decided that a barrier between the driver and the horses would serve as a balancing aid for new drivers.

In the above pictures the floor planks can be seen. This is where the driver stands before wood is loaded onto the scoot. The images below show the detail of the harnesses and eveners.
  LogSled-horseharness_profile_IMG_1851 LogSledReligious Symbolism-sm LogSled_IMG_1818-front-bar-detail
 Bucking Jig
  Bucking Jig

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Horse Logging Semester at Stone Soup has Started!

The Horse logging semester has started here at SSI. The days are full of the choreing, learning, cooking, talking, resting, eating, and music. The students arrived here seven days ago, and spent a few days getting acclimated to the environment and the horses. They took a few trips for supplies, axe heads, safety gear, and the like.
They are driving the horses- as I write they are driving the Marcus and Gus as a team.  They are in the process of learning to build a logging sled. To that end, earlier today the students learned how to heat up rusted bolts on the old logging sled with a torch, and remove the useful parts from it.
They have begun using chainsaws to buck up firewood, and some tree felling has began as well. Some of these trees are standing deadwood, which will be used for firewood in the house.

We are all living together- taking turns cooking, cleaning, keeping an eye on the fires, and tending to the horses. In the evenings we eat, talk, and often play music, as the house is completely packed with musicians and musical instruments.
We talk about things we agree on, we disagree on things, we see different perspectives, we clarify our perspectives. We get overwhelmed with the activity and go to be by ourselves for while, and come back, and constantly seem to find ourselves happy to be here. Happy to feel like a person working with our hands, with the forces of the earth.

There is always a deeper story than the activities of the day though. I can not speak for anyone but myself, but this is the deeper story I hear, as this all begins:

Learning something in this way is different, because this is all about the feel of it. It is knowledge that lives in our senses. The ability is within your hands, in light touch, in patience, in perseverance, and in the clear and calm mind of the willing learner. It takes time to sink in- but soon, the world you live in speaks back.  It says that you are capable, as your hands learn to feel something your mind could never know.  It says that you are wise as your instincts begin to communicate something that doesn't have a language to it. It says that  your identity is beautiful, as each day, you look outside, and see that world is indeed a hopeful, beautiful place, and you are not separate from it. When a human works with hard earned skill- gained only by time, clarity, gentleness, and patience, it is as if the work rises to meet them- Work is no longer work, but a dance that speaks only of love, of complete devotion, or complete willing dependance- it is a form of worshiping reality that a happy few get to know. It is a meditation and as profound a thing as can be found in any house of worship. It is one way we have been given to speak to the earth, and the conduit through which the earth speaks back. To have a life of leisure- to be done with work, is a common dream of some Americans. But, like so many other things, the absolute opposite seems to be the truth. To know how to work, with wisdom and skill, is real freedom, peace and happiness. The pursuit here is deeper than knowledge- its knowing.